Friday, August 17, 2018

Defining Wisdom

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“But the wisdom that comes from heaven
is first of all pure; then peace-loving,
considerate, submissive, full of mercy
and good fruit, impartial and sincere.

“Peacemakers who sow in peace
reap a harvest of righteousness.”
—James 3:17-18

One day, when I was about thirteen years old, I went with my dad to the hardware store. I had been there many times, always in the company of my dad. I had noticed that the store clerk was a very dedicated and helpful person. With all of the thousands of items in that store, he knew exactly where every item was located.

As he approached us, asking to help, he had overheard a conversation my dad and I were having about some electrical equipment. I must have been waxing in high spirits about some aspect of the equipment, to which my dad was simply nodding in response.

“Don’t you wish you knew as much as he thinks he knows?” the clerk asked my dad.

My dad smiled and replied, “Yes. But, he is a pretty smart kid.”

I did not completely miss the point the store clerk was making. I only wish that I had learned a much more ingrained lesson from what the clerk said. Far too often, I have spoken out when it would have been much wiser to remain silent.

On another occasion, when my dad and I went to the hardware store, this same clerk was dealing with a very loud and sarcastic customer. Apparently, the customer had bought some bolts and then proceeded to cross thread them when he went to use them. He had brought them back to the store and insisted they were defective. The conversation was very one-sided. The customer would make some loud assertion, punctuated with profanity. The clerk would then make a very soft and gentle response. Finally the loud mouth left the store.

At this point the clerk turned to us and said, “It is far better to be a wise man than a wise guy!”

My dad chuckled at the remark and then made one of his own. “I suspect,” my dad said, “that man has never been popped in the mouth.”

I was a bit startled by such words coming from my Sunday School teacher dad. Then, I remembered a conversation we had had many years before when he recounted an event that occurred during his time in the U. S. Marine Corps in World War II. His remark that day made sense in the context of the story he had told me about brash young men coming into the Corps.

At his lofty old age of 35, he had far more worldly wisdom than they had. And, they soon learned that mouthing off was not going to be tolerated in the Marine Corps. If they mouthed off to the Drill Sergeant, he might just take them around the corner and “pop” them in the mouth—a technique that usually ended their bad verbal behavior. Sometimes, wisdom comes from the stark reality of experience.

The Apostle James talks about true wisdom—God-given wisdom—with these words found in James 3:17-18:

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.

Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.

In our quest to serve God with devoted hearts, let’s begin this day by asking God to give us this kind of wisdom. As we walk the road of life that He has laid out before us, if we rely on the kind of wisdom our loving Father will give us, we will avoid a whole lot of problems.

 

Copyright © 2018 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Showing God Our Love

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“God is not unjust; he will not forget your work
and the love you have shown him as you have
helped his people and continue to help them.”
—Hebrews 6:10

We who believe in the life-transforming power of the Lord Jesus Christ recognize that God loves us with an everlasting love. Before the foundation of the earth, God chose us to belong to Himself. We do not know, nor do we understand, why God chose us. We have nothing whatsoever to commend us to God. Yet, we accept the reality of His love and the magnificence of the forgiveness He has given us through the suffering, death, resurrection, and ascension of His precious Son, Jesus.

So, how do we show our love for God? We can certainly do so by obediently following the pathway He has His Holy Spirit open up before us. We can also show our love for Him by lovingly and obediently helping others to come to know of His enormous love and overwhelming mercy and grace.

Note these words of the writer to the Hebrew Christians scattered across the then known world, as recorded in Hebrews 6:10:

God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.

God remembers everything we have done for Him in His Name. What a glorious fact that is.

I recently watched a video of a dear friend, as he interviewed his mother on Mother’s Day. It was the kind of fun video that you would expect from this broadcaster. It had a simplicity marked by creative excellence. The love between mother and son was so very evident throughout this video.

There was her charm and grace revealed in the way she answered some of his most impish questions. He asked her about some of her accomplishments in life, her response to some of the behaviors of himself and his siblings, and what she was up to in her sunset years. There was such a warmth and tenderness to this interview that I sensed tears forming in my eyes, as I thought of my own mother and what she meant to me.

If we were to sit down and interview God and ask Him how He feels about us and what He both admires in us and would like to see different in our lives, I think we would feel a sense of deep and abiding love.

His patient answers to our questions would validate the reality of the Scripture verse above. He delights in what we do for others in His Name. He is proud of our walk of faith. He encourages us in our spiritual formation. He longs to see ever-greater obedience become a part of our lives.

On this new day, let’s remember, all through the day, that God does not forget the love we have shown Him, as we have helped His people and continue to help them.

 

Copyright © 2018 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

A Response of Wonder and Praise

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and
knowledge of God! How unsearchable his
judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!”
—Romans 11:33

Do you remember how you felt the first time you saw a fireworks display?

You heard the whoosh, as the shell left the mortar. You heard the high whistling sound, as the shell climbed into the sky.

Suddenly, with a loud bang, a burst of color streamed in all directions across the sky. The people in the crowd, including you, voiced sounds of wonder and amazement.

Each successive shell was sent aloft with anticipation building in the crowd. What colors would this one produce? Would there be a loud bang, or a softer whistle? Would there be just one explosion? Or, would two, three, or even more explosions release one after the other?

Maybe you felt a surge of wonder and praise the first time you saw your new born child or grandchild. Those precious tiny features, the soft cooing sounds, little bubbles around the lips, the blink of an eye—your heart beat a little faster. You found that you had been holding your breath, as you watched this beautiful gift from God. You fairly burst with joy.

One of the amazing things about the Apostle Paul is his moments of ecstasy, recorded in his letters, when he begins to think about the greatness of God. Sometimes, right in the middle of a very serious passage of admonition, Paul will suddenly burst into a soliloquy of praise to God.

Such is the case in Romans 11:33:

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!

These ecstatic passages of Paul’s often begin with the exclamatory word “Oh!” It’s as if in that moment the Holy Spirit just overwhelms Paul, as he thinks about the God who loves him with an everlasting love.

As we begin a new day, let’s not be afraid to express all the emotion we feel when we consider how marvelous it is to be loved by such a God. Let’s not hold back our words of praise. Let’s not fail to acknowledge the joy He brings us. Let’s willingly give testimony to His greatness at work in and through us.

 

Copyright © 2018 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Hear God Singing

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“The Lord your God is with you,
the Mighty Warrior who saves.

“He will take great delight in you; in
his love he will no longer rebuke you,
but will rejoice over you with singing.”
—Zephaniah 3:17

Have you ever walked into a room and suddenly everyone present burst into a song giving praise to you because of who you are and what you have done? Maybe they sang “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow” or “For She’s a Lovely Lady.” In any case, in the midst of your surprise, did you not feel a bit of warmth and pride sweep over you because people thought so much of you that they would literally sing your praises?

The Prophet Zephaniah was so concerned that the people in his charge would know how much God loved them, appreciated them, and longed to show how He felt about them, that Zephaniah penned these words, recorded in Zephaniah 3:17:

“The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves.

“He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”

Imagine the reality that the God who loves and cares for us also takes great delight in us and rejoices over us with singing. That is a pretty amazing thing to keep in mind.

If the circumstances of our day begin to weigh us down, let’s determine to remember that God is singing our praises as He rejoices that He has chosen us to belong to Himself. That’s a kind of affirmation that surpasses anything we can ever receive apart from Him.

Let’s not become discouraged this new day. Rather, let’s take great joy from knowing how much God loves us and how much He delights in us.

 

Copyright © 2018 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Monday, August 13, 2018

Beyond Our Understanding

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“As you do not know the path of the
wind, or how the body is formed in
a mother’s womb, so you cannot
understand the work of God,
the Maker of all things.”
—Ecclesiastes 11:5

“I don’t at all understand how a microwave oven works, but I sure do like the speed and convenience it brings to certain cooking tasks in the kitchen.”

I overheard the remarks of this young woman while I was standing in line at a church supper. Always the literalist—because of my Concrete-Sequential Mind Style™—I proceeded to explain electromagnetic energy, making reference to the similarity microwaves have to radar signals and, thus, the original name of the Amana microwave oven: “Radarange.”

After the woman had very patiently listened to my explanation, she turned back to her friend in line and said, “I don’t at all understand how a microwave oven works, but I sure do like the speed and convenience it brings to certain cooking tasks in the kitchen.”

I was quite jarred at first. But then, I remembered all of the things that I have not understood over the years and realized that we all have some things we do not understand.

Certainly, King Solomon acknowledges this very fact when he wrote these words, as recorded in Ecclesiastes 11:5:

As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things.

God is beyond our comprehension. Or, more properly stated, except for what God has chosen to reveal about Himself to us through the Living Word, the Lord Jesus Christ, and God’s written Word, the Bible, we cannot possibly understand Him. And, that is exactly as it should be. After all, He is God and we… well, we are not!

We can take great comfort at the beginning of this new day that, even though God has revealed exactly as much of Himself as we need to know, He remains a wonderful mystery to us. Someday, when we reach heaven, we will see God for who He really is. We will be astounded. No wonder we will fall on our knees and worship Him.

 

Copyright © 2018 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Friday, August 10, 2018

Image Carriers

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“For you created my inmost being; you
knit me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise you because I am fearfully
and wonderfully made; your works
are wonderful, I know that full well.”
—Psalm 139:13-14

The miracle of creation is repeated countless thousands of times every day. God’s amazing plan for sustaining the human race echoes those first moments of the creation of humankind.

I can only imagine what it must have been like to witness God taking the dust of the earth and fashioning the first man, Adam. Then, God caused Adam to sleep deeply and remove a rib from which God fashioned first woman, Eve.

To me this is not some fanciful, made-up story. This is the reality of how God created humans. The Bible says that after making mankind in His own image, God breathed into humans the breath of life.

Human beings bear the image of God, what theologians call the Imago Dei. This is God’s unique and special stamp on humans. It separates humankind from all of the other creatures that God created. We humans bear the image of God and this marks us in a way that is like no other creature.

The Psalmist praises God and acknowledges the uniqueness of humankind when he writes these words found in Psalm 139:13-14:

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

We do well to remember that our very special relationship with God began when He chose to stamp us with His image. Down through the ages, we have inherited the Imago Dei from our parents. We remain to this very day the “Image Carriers”—the ones who hold within us the image of God.

As we begin another day, let us celebrate this unique place God has given us in the order of creation. Let us take seriously the responsibility we have as stewards of God’s creation. Let us also recognize that no other creature has the unique blessing and responsibility of bearing the image of God.

 

Copyright © 2018 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Thursday, August 9, 2018

A Certain Quality

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but
a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”
—Proverbs 31:30

In yesterday’s blog post, I discussed the differences between women and men, pointing out some of the distinct value that women bring to every one of their interpersonal interactions with men. I wrote about how the differences between men and women complement each other.

Today, as a follow up, it seems appropriate to examine the qualities that supercharge women’s God-given abilities.

If you ask the vast majority of men—remembering of course my assertion in the previous blog post that “all men are jerks”—you will likely find a long and uninspired list of qualities that make women attractive to men. On occasion, in the right circumstances, some women might find this list somewhat beguiling. Of course that depends on the man who is voicing the list. If it’s a man for whom the woman already feels some warm feelings, she may find some of the items on his list of her attractive qualities engaging, or beguiling, or even humorous. But woe to the man who, out of honesty, includes certain qualities that he would much better keep to himself, or to the man for whom the woman feels little or no warmth.

So, what qualities do resonate and, at the same time, validate those amazing gifts that God has given women, about which I devoted yesterday’s blog post?

We can again turn to King Solomon for his wisdom and his expertise. He states the following in Proverbs 31:30:

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

A God-fearing woman possesses a behavior that truly supercharges all the other gifts God may have given her. She is the one worthy of honor, respect, admiration, and appreciation. She is the one who can focus her interpersonal skills in a way that pleases God and brings glory to His Name. She is also the woman who King Solomon finds most attractive.

Maybe, just maybe, we other “jerky” men should follow the King of the Jerks, Solomon’s, example and recognize that certain quality that gives great value to godly women. Yes! I think that’s a very good idea.

 

Copyright © 2018 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.